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<   No. 4038   2019-07-17   >

Comic #4038

1 Prof. Jones: Herodotus wrote in his Histories on visiting Egypt and interviewing locals about how the pyramids were built.
2 Prof. Jones: He says they used a “machine” made of wooden planks to move the giant stones up the pyramid.
3 Prof. Jones: But there are no descriptions of this machine or how it worked.
4 Minnesota Jones: Lucky for us, otherwise there’d be pyramids everywhere!

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Herodotus lived in the 5th century BC, which was over 2000 years too late to see the Great Pyramids being built, but merely a couple of hundred years too late to see the construction of the very last Egyptian pyramids by the pharaoh Taharqa at the complex at Nuri. So anyone who he interviewed about pyramid construction techniques would have been telling him stories from at least a couple of centuries earlier.

Herodotus wrote in his Histories (well, he wrote in Ancient Greek, but here is an English translation):

The pyramid was built in steps, battlement-wise, as it is called, or, according to others, altar-wise. After laying the stones for the base, they raised the remaining stones to their places by means of machines formed of short wooden planks. The first machine raised them from the ground to the top of the first step. On this there was another machine, which received the stone upon its arrival and conveyed it to the second step, whence a third machine advanced it still higher. Either they had as many machines as there were steps in the pyramid, or possibly they had but a single machine, which, being easily moved, was transferred from tier to tier as the stone rose — both accounts are given and therefore I mention both. The upper portion of the Pyramid was finished first, then the middle and finally the part which was lowest and nearest to the ground.

Wikipedia has a bit more about the so-called Herodotus Machine.

I said in the first strip at the Pyramids that although I've visited the Pyramids, I "don't have any good photos of the Pyramids from a distance far enough away to make a good background panorama". Turns out I was lying! I found the negatives of my Egypt photos and had them scanned, and there were more images than just the prints I'd previously scanned. I actually did this some time ago, but the new scans were lurking on my computer in another folder that I neglected to look into when trying to find good background images.

The photo used here is a much better one than what I cobbled together last time. It shows the Pyramid of Khafre, with its distinctive smooth casing stones still present on the uppermost parts. Peeking out from behind it on the right side is the larger Pyramid of Khufu, looking smaller because of the distance. There are some yellow stains that you can see on the left side of the photo, which I presume are due to the aging of the photographic chemicals.

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